An obscure silent melodrama reveals an odd niche in British social history: Trapped By the Mormons (1922) was a fumbled piece of propaganda intended to warn English women of the dangers posed by the misunderstood American sect.
Criterion have released an excellent Blu-ray of Ken Loach’s Palme d’or-winning I, Daniel Blake (2016), supplemented with a commentary track from Loach and writer Paul Laverty, an illuminating behind-the-scenes documentary, and a feature-length account of the director’s life and career. One of the best disks released so far this year.
Severin Films recent Blu-ray special edition of Robert S. Baker and Monty Berman’s Jack the Ripper (1959) is ambitious but compromised; the atmospheric horror film is presented in three different versions, all of which have serious issues with the transfers (print damage in one case and incorrect aspect ratios in the other two). More satisfying, technically and creatively, is Severin’s Blu-ray edition of Richard Stanley’s typically idiosyncratic documentary The Otherworld (2013).
Hammer Films are, of course, best known for launching the modern era of horror with their late ’50s colour reworkings of the Universal classics from the ’30s, beginning with Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Dracula (1958). These movies, colourful, somewhat perverse for the time, and more graphic than earlier films in the genre, inspired Roger […] Read More
The pleasures of black-and-white cinematography are on full display in Ken Hughes’ The Small World of Sammy Lee; shot on the streets of Soho and the East End by the great Wolfgang Suschitzky, this story of a small-time entertainer and compulsive gambler desperately trying to raise cash to pay off a gangster is a finely observed depiction of the seedier side of pre-Swinging London, shot through with bleak humour and the tentative possibility of redemption.